July 2007

Jose Duque’s Zumbatres - Far Away
Format: CD
Released: 2006

by John Crossett

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

For the majority of listeners, the title of this album will perfectly describe the sensations of listening to these tunes, which conjure another place. By taking the traditional jazz trio -- piano, bass and drums -- and adding guitar, drummer and leader Jose Duque paints impressionistic and experimental post-bop musical pictures with a very Latin base. "Danilo" echoes 1960s Blue Note together with the rhythms of Cuba. The title cut is not reminiscent of any specific place, but it causes musical travel to somewhere warm and breezy.

Recorded at Waterway Production Studios in Dover, New Hampshire (practically neighbors of mine), Far Away sounds as lush, rich, and expansive as the music on it. Each instrument is well represented in both style and tonal balance. Image placement is also well handled. I have found that the fewer instruments recorded, the easier it is to get them down correctly, and this disc proves that point. Three additional live tracks sound different from the studio ones while sharing the same overall sonic quality.

Small labels such as this one are beginning to become the place to look for new jazz recorded in realistic sound. You'll have to search some to find such recordings, but they're out there -- and worth finding.